Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney said:
“Today’s report by my colleague in England demonstrates how vulnerable some children and young people can be to sexual exploitation.
“While this research has been conducted in England it is important that Northern Ireland takes on board the emerging evidence about the scale of gang associated sexual violence young people can be subjected to.
“The interim report highlights again that young people are more often at risk from those known to them and that there continues to be low reporting of sexual violence and exploitation. We must all make sure young people can be confident in reporting abuse and that all agencies work together to prevent exploitation and support and protect victims.
“In echoing this call I commend the steps taken to date in Northern Ireland to protect young people, but we must never be complacent; police, social services, politicians and policy makers must do more to ensure the protection of these children and their rights.
“Yesterday at my inaugural annual conference international and national speakers brought this reality home, showing how protecting children’s rights can move us forward towards safeguarding all children and young people in our society.”